Alfa Romeo Forum banner
1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
95 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So...47K on my '05 156TS Veloce. What a lovely motor, still brings a smile every journey. :)

From new, the cambelt was changed after a year with a 50% 'apology' discount from Alfa Central, following the Warning Notice to Dealerships. Still under warranty, I had to fork out another £300 on top of my annual service. Ouch etc. Three years later - here it comes again - main dealer service + another cambelt = £690. Grr etc. Three years later, Indy Essex Alfa Specialist - surely this will be less expensive - at a whisker under £700, not so.
By my count, that is FOUR cambelts in less than 50K miles. :(

It's major service time again in February and, as I am now retired and barely use the car for anything other than local distances, I am reluctant to part with another £700 for yet another - I wonder if - completely unecessary new cambelt. :rolleyes:

The word from Alfa is that the cambelt needs replacing after every three years REGARDLESS OF MILEAGE. Why? FFS what is it made of that is so crappy that it goes - TWANG - after three years -can it not be improved by a re-design, and why has this not been done? :rant:

Yes I do have a factual question for you guys - here it is. Do these ****-poor belts fail due to withering - perishing - and becoming brittle - or do they just prematurely wear out due to friction in normal use etc.?

My future use of my much-loved Alfa depends on my keeping it on the road, fully (short) serviced of course, but staying within my much-reduced Pensioner's budget. In short, I can't afford another cambelt - I can't afford a breakdown either, nor the engine valves rebuild that would follow a snapped belt. But is that really going to happen?

Apologies for an overlong post, but I wanted to make myself clear. I would love to hear from anyone with either specialist knowledge of the engine layout and its fatal flaw, or from anyone who, sadly, has had the unthinkable happen.

Finally - what would YOU do in my place? :eek:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,024 Posts
In the past its not the cambelt that gave the trouble , it was the plastic tensioner.
If you are doing very short journeys then you should consider a change , but if you are doing reasonably longer journeys I would stretch the time a bit.
I cannot see how you can get a £700 bill for doing it though.At the least its £130 for parts and if you know a smaller Indy garage or a good mechanic it s not a difficult job. All you need is the camlocks , don't let someone tell you otherwise and find the right man to do the job and you should be fine .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,900 Posts
Jim...

there is only one real solution to this.

DIY.

I suggest you go and get a haynes or have a butchers on here and youtube for guidance.

the regular items will be.

oil service. easy

coolant change..easy-ish just makes sure its properly bled

brake pads..easy

airfilter- easy

cambelt, ok this one requires some specialst tools in terms of making sure the timing is spot on when it goes back together but the actual job although long winded its not actually difficult.

you could even do the donkey work yourself and then get an indie to come and do the timing.

re the codes buy an elm 327 code reader and get an app for reading and clearing them them on your phone or tablet...

in terms of knowledge re the alfa, well I have done oil,brake pads and exhaust flexi hose myself but had my cambelt done at alfaworkshop.

its pricey and I will be doing the next one myself.

I have however done several cylinder head rebuilds after headgasket failures over the years on my own cars and mates, and apart from being labour intensive and requiring an investment in the right tools its easy.

on a recent bmw head I actually got the specs for the cam lock tool from the haynes manual and asked the engineering firm that did the head skim for me to make one.

cost ?

£20! bmw want £345 for the set, I used a drill bit of the correct size for a flywheel pin.

timing was spot on when I put her back together.

my point is an engine is an engine regardless of marque, and although each car will have its specific strenghts and weaknesses its all the same apart from specialist tools and engine layout.

if things go wrong its often the diagnosis thats the difficult bit not the work itself.

you are retiring, I can't think of a more enjoyable way to pass the time than getting to know the intimates of your alfa..

I have a good mate who's 75 and we help each other out with all of this stuff, he has serviced his own cars all his life but since retirement has been buying project cars just to tinker with!

its alot of fun and really satisfying when you get a mess of a car and for little money and some effort turn it around.

my tuppence.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
912 Posts
Isn't that a chain, not a belt? And I believe they cost a fortune to replace when they inadvertantly "stretch" - which, apparently, happens quite a lot.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
4,556 Posts
Step 1 - stop going to main dealers for cambelt changes. Autolusso have your belt listed as £300, or £450 for belt and service at the same time.

I would change it. We had a very lucky escape with our V6 which was due on years, but had only done 30K on the new belt. It skipped a few teeth, but thankfully no damage. Again, it is the roller bearings, not the belt.

On the DIY side, I do everything myself, but I would not advise starting out with a cambelt change if you are not experienced!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,227 Posts
I'd try to remember that Jim here is a pensioner so maybe scrabbling round under and over a car might be a bit of a chore.

Lets just say in order to make sure your car runs changing the cam belt is required. Least for the next three years.
The back ground on cam belt life being shorted is:-

Belt quality has never changed. They are made by various companies and don't really change from one company to the next really.

They were designed with a plastic geared tensioner. Which... Gives the belt an easier time. But the bearings used to fail well before the 72k mark. But the plastic gave the belt an easier time. The plastic ones over the years (5 originally) bearing or plastic would even actually fail. Loosening the belt and thus causing the timing to fail.

So these got changed to metal tensioners. Belt quality stayed the same.
Now the metal tensioner gives the belt a hard time. But it now lasts over the 72k (But still gets changed anyway).

This now increases wear on the belt. So it was easier to lower the belt interval.


So chances are your cambelt would be fine for another year in all essence given the low mileage. However it will be cam belt roulette.
I've changed about 6 belts from various engines and its straight forward. But again if you are not handy I would suggest maybe finding someone that is.

Or there are plenty of Indy's you could just get them to do a cam belt change and get someone else to do oil and filters for you.

Heck... If you were nearer to me I'd offer to do the lot for you. You'd have to keep me supplied in Tea and biscuits though.
If you fancy a trip up to Birmingham I'll do it for you.

I'd hate to see another car scrapped or left you at the side of the road for no reason.
You could even do it on the cheap and buy a belt only. But again its not really the belt that contributes to wear.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,227 Posts
my point is an engine is an engine regardless of marque, and although each car will have its specific strenghts and weaknesses its all the same apart from specialist tools and engine layout.
Its amazing how so many people forget this.
The hard work has gone into the layout and design rather than how it works.

Even the parts across brands all come from similar factories. Just like any industry.
Which is why I hate when people say this car is more reliable than this based of how good their marketing is.
 

·
Registered
Alfa 145, Spider, Chrysler Delta
Joined
·
7,120 Posts
short journeys with an oil leak in the belt area, you will need to change it, its the number of start ups that kill it rather than the no. of miles. Oil speeds up the rubber perishing. Plastic rollers have been replaced by metal ones again, so not really an issue any more.

I recently did a belt on a 156 JTS that was on 71000 and it was starting to get cracks across the belt.

You may be lucky, but the cost of when you are not is the problem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,227 Posts
Isn't that a chain, not a belt? And I believe they cost a fortune to replace when they inadvertantly "stretch" - which, apparently, happens quite a lot.
They only stretch is people don't change the oil enough...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42,287 Posts
Nope according to my info it's a cambelt ,referred to in my latest MV repair magazine.

As an aside, my Lancia 16v Turbo, had ALL metal idler and tensioner bearings on the cambelt camshaft train, and these were never repalaced in 72,000 miles of motoring, the belt did get replaced though as and when I felt like doing it! :D

Never had a belt snap on that machine, so you can imagine how disappointed I was when I bought the 2.0 litre Sele' and the plastic gears/tensioners started to rattle at 3k?

I was under the impression that the Lanny 2.0 litre had a similar engine? :rolleyes:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
219 Posts
I was establishing exactly what servicing had been carried out on my wife's 80k Citroen C4 the other day. It does have a FSH and going for another today. Its never had a cambelt change so I was getting concerned it may be overdue. I could not believe it, and I checked and rechecked. Citroen recommends to change the cambelt every 100K ! I don't know what engineering allows this but thats not bad in my book.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,227 Posts
Same on the Renault Diesels... 10 years 100k.
But its a lowly 1.5 8v. So doesn't get much wear. Doesn't rev high and doesn't have that much load on it.

But the TS engines are DOHC, With variable pulleys and a Variator. All Adding and taking away stress. They also rev past 7k with a water pump aggressive out the box cams and it also runs things like the power steering which some cars don't. It all adds up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
899 Posts
Smaky ran his 145 to around the 10 year mark and 90k from memory without a belt change just to see how long it would last. I did a head on one last year that had snapped its belt at 9 years (still had the plastic tensioner too).

Plenty snap their belts at around the 3-4 year mark though.
I guess you either pays your money or takes a chance.

Unless your car needs a variator or waterpump you can get belt kits for around £70 and then as said find someone who knows how to do them locally (with the correct cam-locking tools).
 

·
Registered
Alfa Mito, 2010, 1.4NA, 6-speed
Joined
·
9,362 Posts
Our first belt lasted 73K ... then the tensioner seized and stripped teeth off the belt.

I tend to try and go for 3-4 years now ..
 
G

·
Had mine changed recently. No record of it having been done so I assumed it hadn't. Car had done 56000 miles at the time. I asked to see the old one out of interest. The teeth looked perfect. We assumed it was the original one as you could just about make out the Alfa Romeo logo on the outside. To be honest, it looked like it could have done another 56000, but you never know. Plus mine is an 8v diesel, so maybe the belt has an easier life with revving lower?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,227 Posts
The 8v JTD on a punto - Pretty much same thing has an interval of 72k or 5 years. So its probably closer to 60k 4 years on the 8v. It does give belts an easier time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
95 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks to all posters - I'm a lot wiser now. Picking the bones out of the info, I can make an informed decision, in line with the financial strictures of my reduced circumstances.

1. The original 'fault' causing a Main Dealer Recall in 05/06 was not a belt issue at all: it was to replace the original plastic roller/bearings/tension wheely-bits with METAL ones. The chances of failure now are confined to the belt itself.
2. The belts themselves are generic - i.e. no different in quality, composition, construction or probable life than, say a Citroen or Pug petrol engined belt. Having recently junked my dear old Xantia 1.8 estate after 15 years with no cambelt change, I'm inclined to be optimistic regarding the twilight years of my Alfa - the latest set of belt and rollers/tensioners having only 5K on the clock.

PS - to those of you offering DIY guidance - sadly I no longer have the luxury of a garage or off-street parking area, otherwise I would certainly have had a stab at doing the job myself.

Cambelt! To Infinity - and Beyond :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,227 Posts
Good luck with what ever you decide.

For the cost of the £700 though I might chance my arm and keep it doing until it kills itself. You can get another 156 for that price...
Although that one might not last the three years. Its a gamble whatever you decide to do.
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top